They had no problem getting into the school. Buffy’s security code worked and Eric had no trouble getting past the magical wards. Buffy guessed that that said something about his intentions and character. At the very least he couldn’t be evil. She was also excited. Since her code worked this probably was the right reality.
“I guess you’re home,” Eric stated.
Buffy grinned up at him, feeling more optimistic now. Then she froze as someone walked around the corner. Her eyes fixed on the tall dark haired guy, taking in every feature. Her heart started to beat faster. In that moment she didn’t even care that this obviously wasn’t her reality.
“Angel,” she breathed.
He stared back at her, his eyes widening.
Buffy smiled happily and without another thought moved forward, wrapped her arms around Angel and kissed him. She had missed him so much, even more than Spike. And now he was here, holding her, kissing her. Deep down she knew that this wasn’t the Angel she knew - he was dead - but in this moment that didn’t really matter.
Eric stared at the scene in front of him, a frown on his face. Apparently Buffy really was home, and she had a boyfriend! Why had she never mentioned that? Not that it mattered much. He would have still gone with her and worked on winning her over, but it would have been nice to know. Finding out like this really wasn’t fun. He growled and tried to push away the urge to grab the dark haired guy and rip him apart. Then he noticed that he wasn’t the only one who didn’t seem to like the sight. Faith was standing a few feet away not looking too happy. Eric raised an eyebrow at her. He thought she had fallen out of the TARDIS in another reality.
When they finally pulled apart Buffy was breathing heavily and glanced up at Angel. He was looking at her with an odd expression, a mix of happiness and confusion.
“How?” he asked silently. “You… died.” He let go of her, looking uncertain all of a sudden.
Buffy looked at him a little surprised. So she was dead in this reality. How? Had she not come back from heaven? Well she could ask that later. By the look on Angel’s face she could tell that he was starting to wonder if it was actually her or maybe some kind of shape-shifter.
“Alternate reality,” she said. “And I am Buffy… just not the one you knew.”
Angel looked at her a little uncertain. He was about to say something, when they heard a noise. They broke apart slightly and looked around.
“Faith,” Angel called. The other slayer was walking off rather quickly. “Wait.” That said Angel left Buffy’s side and hurried after Faith.
“Not your reality then?” Eric asked, but it was more a statement than a question.
“No,” Buffy answered silently, but didn’t look at Eric. Her eyes were fixed on Angel and Faith. Angel was apologizing to her and telling her that he loved her. A frown appeared on Buffy’s face. Angel and Faith? She so didn’t like the thought of that. Yes, this was an alternate reality. Things could be different. And she was dead in this reality. Angel was allowed to move on and be happy. But with Faith? Why did Faith always get the great guys lately? And why Angel of all people? Faith had tried to get between her and Angel in the past. Now it felt like she had succeeded. Of course that was a silly thought. Buffy didn’t even know if this Faith had done the same things the Faith from her reality did. But still, it stung.
“We should leave,” Buffy said. She didn’t want to stay a second longer than she had to.
Buffy turned and glared up at Eric. “What?”
“We… I can’t leave. It will be dawn soon.” He could feel it. He had maybe an hour left at most. That wasn’t enough time to find another safe place.
Buffy frowned, feeling frustrated. She felt like telling Eric that they would just have to find another place to spend the day, but she knew that that would be silly. The Slayer School was the safest place she knew. That fact didn’t change just because they were in another reality. She couldn’t risk Eric’s life because she was jealous of Faith. She might not really like Eric, or the attraction she felt towards him, but that didn’t mean that she would put him in danger, far from it actually, she thought, remembering that she even let him drink her blood when he was dying. Maybe she did like him after all?
“Fine. We’re staying... if they let us.” It was possible after all, that this realities’ versions of her friends wouldn’t believe her that she was Buffy from another reality and meant them no harm. Buffy sighed. All these different realities were winding her round the bend!
----- -----Next day:
They did let them stay. They were a little wary at first, but after this realities Willow had performed a few spells she had declared that Buffy was indeed human, or well, a slayer. Buffy was glad that they believed her and it was kind of good to see some of her friends again, like Xander, Giles, and especially Anya. She never knew how much she actually liked the ex-demon until she died. On the other hand seeing so many people she cared about and missed made her feel rather sad as well, since they were not actually her friends; they were just slightly different. But none of them seemed to notice her unease. They were all thrilled to see her and wanted to talk to her. Before long Buffy felt exhausted and she was actually starting to look forward to night time, when Eric would wake up. He was sleeping in a room across the hall. Buffy had gotten some sleep as well, but not much. She was too on edge and worried about Dawn, Willow and the others.
After waking up Eric went to look for Buffy. He didn’t have to look far. Apparently she had kept her promise to stay close and make sure no one would harm him, not that she thought he was in danger, but she had promised anyway. He was glad about it. Sleeping in a building full of vampire slayers who didn’t know him had made him a little uneasy, but he didn’t have a choice. Unlike the vampires from this world he couldn’t stay up during the day. As soon as the sun was up he was dead to the world.
Buffy was surrounded by people, who all chatted happily, but she didn’t really seem to be as happy as they were. Yes, she smiled at them, but the smiles didn’t reach her eyes. Then she turned and her eyes met his. The first real smile appeared on her face, lighting it up in a beautiful way. Eric smiled back, happy that he was the reason for her smile, not Angel.
Buffy excused herself and came over to him.
“Thank god, I thought you decided to sleep through the night as well,” she said teasingly, but she also sounded a little relieved.
“Sounds like you missed me,” he replied in a bit of a cocky voice while at the same time feeling hopeful.
“Don’t flatter yourself. It’s just good to see someone who isn’t thrilled to see me alive.”
“As a matter of fact I am quite happy to see you alive,” he answered with a slightly amused smile.
Buffy smirked. “You know what I mean.” She then sighed. “It’s just weird. Seeing all these people, my friends, and yet they aren’t really my friends.” And then there was Angel. As glad as she was to see him alive, or rather undead, she just couldn’t help but dread his company as well, especially if Faith was there, too.
“Want to get out of here?”
“So, you’re that vampire,” a voice then said and Buffy saw Anya showing up next to them. “I heard that Buffy got herself another vampire with a soul.”
Buffy groaned. “I didn’t get…”
“I can see why you like him. He is very physically appealing,” Anya added turning to Buffy.
Buffy scowled at her. Why had she thought she missed her again?
Eric just smirked in a rather self-satisfied way. Buffy rolled her eyes. Then a draft suddenly appeared out of nowhere and a rather familiar noise followed. Buffy grinned, feeling more relieved than she thought possible. A second later the TARDIS materialized a few feet away.
“I guess Buffy was right, you did manage to find a way to come and get us,” Eric said as he looked at the redheaded witch standing next to him. He had always disliked witches, particularly after the incident with Hallow, but this one did seem to be rather useful.
“Well, we found help,” Willow said and gestured to the TARDIS through which Eric could see a guy rushing around the brand new console.
“He really is the Doctor?” Eric asked. Willow and Ruby had told them about the Doctor they found in another reality, but this one looked so different. It was hard to imagine that he really was supposed to be the same man.
“I guess so. He tends to babble a lot of nonsense, just like the Doctor, and he can fly the TARDIS,” Willow stated. She still wasn’t entirely sure if she should trust him, even though she did feel like she believed him. But Ruby was rather suspicious anyway and didn’t let the guy out of her sight.
“That’s good enough for me, until we find the right Doctor,” Eric said. As long as he didn’t have to stay in this reality, with Angel, he was happy, he thought, as his gaze fell on him and Buffy, who were saying goodbye a few feet away. Who knew if Angel might have realized soon that he preferred an alternate Buffy over Faith after all.
“I guess this is it,” Angel said. “I was actually hoping you’d stay longer.”
“I thought you’re happy with Faith.”
“I am; but I still miss you, you know.”
Buffy sighed and looked down. “I know, I miss you, too.” And she probably always would. But this wasn’t her world. She couldn’t just stay here and be with this version of Angel. He had Faith, and she needed to find Dawn and the others.
“Just make sure Faith doesn’t make you too happy,” she then said.
Angel frowned slightly, but then realization showed on his face as he understood what she meant.
“I have a permanent soul now.”
“You what? I mean… seriously?”
“Yes. It was actually Faith who found a way. She was really determined and eventually turned up with a spell that Willow performed.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. Faith had found a way to be able to really be with Angel. Why had she not been able to do the same? Maybe things would have been different if she had. Angel might still be alive… he was in this world after all.
“If you wait a second I’ll tell Willow to get the spell for you. You never know who gets turned into a vampire and needs to have a soul restored.”
“Yeah, I’ll wait,” Buffy said and watched as Angel left. She felt strange all of a sudden. There she was, waiting to get a spell that would have made it possible for her to be with Angel. Only it was too late. Angel was dead.
Once Buffy was back in the TARDIS Willow went over to her.
“So, how was it to see Angel again?”
Buffy glanced at her friend and sighed.
“Weird. It wasn’t really him though. I mean, he was different. He’s with Faith!”
“Yeah,” Buffy said, but then sighed once more. “Well, I’m dead in that reality, so I can’t really blame him for moving on.”
“You can do whatever you want, and I am ready to blame him with you, if you want me to,” Willow said, a resolved look on her face.
Buffy smirked. It was really good to have her
“But you know, maybe you should think about moving on, too. I mean, not that you haven’t of course. You did date after Angel…”
Buffy frowned. Yes, she had dated after Angel left. There were Riley, Spike and a few others afterwards, but if she was honest she never had moved on completely. As soon as she saw Angel again she had always been drawn to him once more. And that hadn’t changed. She even ran up to an alternate version of him last night and kissed him! It was kind of pathetic, wasn’t it?
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“You’re right,” Buffy said, interrupting Willow.
“I am? Yes… yes, of course I am. You should move on, and you know, you might have the perfect opportunity here…”
Buffy stared at her, then Willow nodded over to where Eric was standing next to Ruby.
“He can barely keep his eyes off of you.”
Buffy groaned. “He’s a vampire,” she stated as if that was all that mattered.
“That never stopped you before,” Willow objected, not seeing the point.
“Exactly, and look where it got me.” Buffy sighed, not feeling too happy.
“Not every vampire loses his soul when he’s happy, Buffy. And not everyone dies on you. Usually vampires actually do live pretty long.”
Buffy’s frown deepened. “Are you trying to tell me to date a vampire?” She could hardly imagine that Willow actually thought this was a good idea.
Willow shrugged. “He is pretty hot.”
“That’s what Anya said,” Buffy stated groaning.
“Anya was alive in that reality?”
Buffy nodded. “And as annoying as ever.”
“Well, she does have a point,” Willow said with a slight smirk while trying to stir the conversation back on track.
Buffy sighed and glanced over to Eric again, who was giving her a cheeky grin, apparently aware that they were talking about him.
“And I know you like him,” Willow added. “I saw the way you looked at him when he wasn’t doing so well; and you let him drink your blood!” Buffy had only done that once before, when Angel was dying. It hadn’t ended well either. Angel almost killed her and she ended up in the hospital. That Buffy even considered letting another vampire drink her blood spoke volumes in Willow’s opinion. And then there was the way Buffy tended to look at Eric. She probably didn’t even realize it, but to Willow it was obvious that her friend liked the vampire.
Buffy frowned once more. “He got hurt protecting me. The least I could do was help him.”
“If you say so…” Willow smirked knowingly and Buffy glared at her. Her friend knew her way too well. But that didn’t change the fact that she didn’t want to be attracted to another vampire. She just wanted a normal guy, or as normal as possible… human would be a good start.
“Yes, I do! And how about we focus on something else? Like what the hell happened to the TARDIS in the first place? How did you manage to find another Doctor and why did the TARDIS change like that? Not that I don’t like it… I was just thinking that we could use more seats around here… but this is just weird.”
----- ----- ----- ----- -----Another reality:
Dawn groaned. Her whole body hurt. She tried to lie still for a moment and took a deep breath. Then she remembered what happened. They fell out of the TARDIS! No wonder she felt like crap. Opening her eyes Dawn slowly looked around.
There was no answer. Ignoring the pain in her left arm Dawn sat up. Sam had fallen out of the TARDIS with her. He had to be here somewhere. She had to find him. He could be hurt, or worse… No, she wouldn’t even think about that. He was okay. He just had to be! He fell out of the ship because he tried to hold on to her. If anything happened to him she would never be able to forgive herself!
“Sam!” she called again and pushed herself up. Her left leg hurt badly as well. She probably landed on her left side. Hopefully there was nothing broken.
Wincing Dawn carefully made a step forward. At least her leg seemed to carry her weight. Probably not broken, she thought. Then she glanced around. She was at the edge of a forest. She could be anywhere, even back home. There was a forest like this near the old graveyard in Cleveland. But forests all kind of looked the same, didn’t they?
Dawn pushed away that thought. It didn’t really matter where she was, what mattered was where Sam was, and the others. What happened to the TARDIS? Buffy was still in there, and so was Willow. The Doctor, Rose, Faith, Martha, Dean and Jack had fallen out before she and Sam did. Where they okay? Dawn wished she knew which direction she should be looking for them.
Before she managed to make up her mind a roaring noise startled Dawn. Feeling uneasy she turned around. Some kind of demon was standing a few feet away. It had brown scaly skin, was at least two heads taller than her and had small horns all over his head. It looked vicious, and angry.
“Crap!” That just had to happen. She could barely stand. Of course a demon had to find her when she was in no condition to make up much of a fight or outrun it.
“Sam! Buffy!” There was no answer, but the demon didn’t seem to like her shouting and let out a nasty scream of its own. Then it charged towards her.
Dawn waited until the last moment, then jumped out of the way, landing on the ground hard. The demon ran past her, stopped a few feet away and turned around, fixing its furious eyes on her. Then it rushed towards her once again.
Just before it reached her the demon suddenly started to stumble and made an agonizing kind of noise, as if it was in pain. Then it turned around, screamed furiously and rushed off. Dawn could see a knife sticking in its back.
Pushing herself up Dawn saw Buffy swinging her scythe and attacking the demon. Sam was close behind her, gun in hand. Then he came over and offered Dawn a hand.
“You alright?” he asked as Dawn took his hand and got up with his help.
Dawn nodded and smiled, relieved. Glancing at Buffy she then saw her behead the demon.
“Thanks. That was just in time,” she said. Then she turned back to Sam and hugged him.
“I’m so glad you’re okay.”
Someone cleared their throat and Dawn let go of Sam. Standing back a little she noticed that he did look rather uncomfortable. Buffy was raising an eyebrow at her. Next to her stood Riley. Dawn’s eyes widened and she took a step backwards. Then she noticed Rose stepping next to Sam and him putting an arm around her. What the hell? The next second Xander and Anya showed up.
“Oh,” Dawn muttered silently as realization hit her. She had to be in an alternate reality.
“Sorry, I…” Dawn didn’t get to finish the sentence as someone was calling her name.
Turning around Dawn saw Sam coming out of the woods. A smile appeared on her face. That had to be her
Sam. But before she could do or say anything Buffy and the other Sam moved in front of her, weapons raised.
“No,” Dawn called. “He’s with me.” She stepped forward, so that she was standing between them and Sam.
“What the…” the other Sam muttered.
“He has to be some kind of shape-shifter,” Riley stated, gun in hand.
“No, he’s not,” Dawn quickly said. “We’re from an alternate reality.” That said Dawn stepped backwards and walked over to Sam.
“What?” the other Sam muttered, but Dawn ignored him for the moment as her eyes took in her
Sam, checking for injuries. He seemed fine.
“Are you alright?” Sam asked stepping towards Dawn and looking her up and down as well.
“I’m fine,” she said, then threw her arms around him. He did the same and pulled her even closer to his chest, holding her as if he was afraid she would disappear.
“I was so worried,” he said.
“Me, too,” she admitted into his chest. Then she stepped slightly back and looked up at him. “The others?”
He shook his head. “Haven’t seen any of them.”
“Sorry to interrupt the happy reunion, but what the hell is going on?” Anya asked.
About two hours later Dawn and Sam were sitting on the meadow next to the Slayer School, just outside the magical wards. This reality’s Buffy, Riley, Sam, Rose, Xander and Anya had made sure that they could rest and got everything they needed to patch themselves up, but they didn’t trust them enough to let them into the Slayer Schools’ grounds. Well, at least they brought them chairs and a table from the garden shed. Xander even organized some food.
Dawn ate a sandwich and glanced at the others who were standing a few feet away, probably talking about her and Sam. It was weird to be around people she kind of knew, but who didn’t know her. None of them did. Apparently Buffy didn’t have a sister in this reality. Dawn guessed that Glory was never exiled here from her dimension, which meant that the Key hadn’t been turned into a human being and she was never created. She sighed. She hadn’t really thought about herself as being the Key in a long time. It was just too weird to think about not being real. However, now all those thoughts came back.
Dawn was then distracted by the sight of Rose and the other Sam. He had his arm around her again. It looked like they were a couple. Dawn turned away and glanced at her Sam. Did he like Rose as well? Did she have to worry?
“You okay?” Sam asked leaning towards her. She looked at him and really hoped that she didn’t have anything to worry about. Sam meant so much to her. She had known from the moment she first saw him that he was the one for her. Being with him and getting to know him better only made her feel even more for him. She really didn’t want anything or anyone to come between them.
Dawn blinked and focused on Sam, pushing away her fears and uncertainty.
“I’m fine. This is just all a little weird, and I’m worried about Buffy, Faith and the others.”
“Me, too. And yeah, this is rather weird,” Sam agreed, glancing at this reality’s Sam Winchester. Meeting yourself was really, really
“You think they’ll let us stay at the school?” Dawn then asked. She had no idea where they should go otherwise. This reality’s Willow had promised to do a locator spell with them later, to find the others, but the TARDIS had disappeared after they fell out. It might not even be in this reality anymore. If that spell wouldn’t find the others she and Sam were stuck in this world. What would they do then?
“I don’t know. You know them better than I do.”
Dawn frowned. She actually felt like she didn’t know these people at all. They were so different.
Sam watched Dawn as she glanced at Buffy and the others again. She looked worried and sad. He didn’t like to see her like that, and he didn’t like to see her hurt either. He should have kept her safe inside the TARDIS. He wished he had trained more with Ruby. If he had been able to use telekinesis he could have closed the TARDIS door before anyone fell out. As soon as they were back with the others he would ask Ruby to continue their training. He couldn’t let anything like this happen again.
“I’m sure everything will work out somehow,” he then said and took Dawn’s hand. “We’ll find the others.” He didn’t know if it was true, but he wanted to make her feel better. He had barely finished that thought when a breeze started, accompanied by a rather familiar noise. Dawn’s head snapped around and a bright smile appeared on her face. Sam thought that she never looked more beautiful. Then the TARDIS appeared a few feet away.
poster/book cover for this chapter: